The journey is a bit of a teaser and it seems natural to expect long mountain parts disappearing around unknown curves. One forgets this is a valley and the hills are not as near as they look. Araku is a village with most of the amenities of a town without the accompanying mess. Taxis can be hired at fixed rates, but drivers will demand more. Autos are available at half the price.
There are many waterfalls near Araku but Nappurai, or Chapparai (14 km), heads the list both for proximity and fun. Smooth, slanting rocks interrupt a stream, making a huge natural water slide. It would be difficult to get kids out soon enough, so carry food along. When you get to Anantagiri, take the right turn close to the State Electricity Board. Duduma Falls (82 km), the site of the Machkund Power Project, is the biggest spectacle. On the Orissa border, two huge waterfalls cascade down from over 2000 ft, each supposedly falling into a different state. The latter part of the 2.5 hr drive is especially lovely. Once you get to Machkund, take permission from the office of the Joint Electrical Officer, open everyday. The taxi from Araku and back will cost Rs. 1,500 approx. Also check out Thadiguda Falls.
Borra Caves and Padampuram Gardens
Borra caves (35 km) have been around for a million years. Then 200 years ago an Englishman came by and announced he had discovered them. The tribals here say the credit belongs not to William Hunter but to one of their cows that fell into the caves through a hole (borra in adivasi Telugu). The caves are huge, but the stalactite and stalagmite formations inside are minor. The round trip costs Rs. 500-600 by taxi.
Entry fee Rs. 25/- and timings from 09.00 am to 01.00 pm, 02.00 pm to 05.00 pm
Padampuram Gardens were initially the kitchen gardens for the British military camp in Vizag during World War II. Now a horticulture society, it is also the chief attraction for children here. A good place to pick up plants of cardamom, camphor, peeper, lychee and something tantalizingly called ‘multivitamins’. All are priced between Rs. 5/- and 20/-.
Timings : 09.00 am to noon, 01.00 pm to 05.00 pm